Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
I grew up in a conservative home and decided to attend a small Christian college because of its conservative values rather than its faith-based mission. I was accepted to law school after college, but before I began, I learned that my mother had terminal lung cancer. My mother insisted that I not delay my law education and I complied with her wishes. My mother died the week of my second semester law school final exams. I was 23 years old and not ready to lose her. I coped by drinking too much, and this became a way of life for me. I graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and became a prosecuting attorney, all while drinking excessively. I was an alcoholic, drinking my paycheck each week and sometimes missing work because of drinking binges.
On December 11, 2006, the court bailiff came into my office, shared the gospel of Christ, and led me to the Lord at my desk. Everything changed after that. I have been sober since that day. The gentleman who led me to Christ was also a pastor, and I began attending his church. He had been an alcoholic too and knew what it was like. He was a tremendous support to me and carried me through. A few months later I met the woman who would become my wife.
In 2008, I resigned as county prosecutor and started a non-profit organization to help other people with drug and alcohol addictions. I began by simply connecting those who needed help with treatment programs. This was a needed service in our region, as we live in one of the worst areas of the country for drug abuse. I felt God was calling me to do more, specifically to open a Christian addiction recovery center. There were some major roadblocks to overcome before this could happen. Our biggest problem was finding a suitable place for the recovery center. We had worked on several buildings to get them ready to become the center but couldn’t get any approved because none met the requirements for a residential treatment facility. We had been working for almost two years to open a center with no traction, and finally I realized that there was a house that I had previously leased that might be the building. I had leased the house with a purchase option because of something I had experienced in prayer. I had felt God telling me the building was to become a house of prayer. So, I leased it thinking someday it might become a place for prayer retreats. I never anticipated it might become our recovery center. I asked the fire marshal to do the inspection on the house and he said, “Finally, you are going to open your center!” The house had been a bed and breakfast and had been grandfathered into the building code. Within two months we were open as a Christian residential drug treatment center. And today the house is definitely a house of prayer.
There was another big hurdle. Money. I had no income and we had a new baby. It had become difficult to even buy diapers. We just couldn’t keep it up with no money coming in. Then I met a Christian businessman and he told me that God would provide if this was His will. One morning in 2011, I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to pray. What I heard in my prayer was that I was approaching things the wrong way. I was approaching drug treatment like a church would, but instead I needed to learn from secular addiction treatment programs. I researched different secular drug treatment programs around the country for a place that most resembled the people and problems in our area, and then with a leap of faith, I spent all our money to hire someone from the addiction treatment industry in Florida as a consultant. Very quickly she showed us that we could be reimbursed from insurance and Medicaid for the care we were providing. This was a game changer and provided the income that we needed to not only continue providing care but to expand.
We now have nine residential Christian addiction treatment centers and four outpatient centers throughout the state. We recently opened an addiction treatment center for pregnant women. Our board wasn’t sure if the time was right to do this, but I felt strongly God leading us to move forward. There was a home for sale in our community that seemed the right size and layout for the maternity center. I had a good feeling about it when we arrived to look at it. The former owners had moved out and nothing remained except a plaster statue of Jesus holding a child in His arms on the front porch. We purchased the home and it now serves as a beautiful place of community where pregnant women and their newborn babies can receive the love and help they need. After purchasing, we learned the home had belonged to a Christian obstetrician. We kept the statue of Jesus holding the child and it is now in the entryway of the home as a reminder to all who enter of Jesus’ love and care for His children.
We have been mission focused from the beginning, and this is still a big part of what we do. We provide pastoral counselors and chaplains and help those going through our program to discover God’s love and grace. The chaplain at the first center we opened is the gentleman who led me to Christ in my office in 2006. The faith-based part of our program doesn’t replace clinical treatment. It comes alongside it. Our model of care is a holistic approach, including spiritual (soul), clinical (mind), medical (body), and vocational (purpose).
Our model is to combine job training and residential treatment in a faith-based environment, and this has been very successful. Every person who completes our recovery program has the opportunity to participate in our staff internship program in which they are guaranteed a job with us at their one-year clean mark. We now employ 200 people at an average pay of $37,500 with benefits, and 70 of those employees are graduates of our own treatment programs!
Each day I continue to seek God’s guidance, wisdom, and provision. I pray often and write down prayers and what I sense as God’s leading throughout the day. When our steering committee meets, we begin with praise and worship music, prayer, and a short message. After this, I share what God has given me in prayer. Often, we step out in faith and make business decisions simply because we believe that God is leading us to do something and we trust that He will provide. And He has. God has held us together in difficult financial times. The Lord always comes through just in time.
One day a month we close the doors at every office at the company. We gather for Convocation, which is a time the whole company, including residents in our treatment programs, comes together to worship corporately. The residents sing and share testimonies. It is very powerful . . . the best day of our month. No business is conducted on that day. It’s when we get out of the way so that God can go behind us to fix our messes. God has the whole company to Himself that day. God is definitely at the stern of this ship. He continues to lead us, provide for us, restore us, and love us.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.